Arch Support

Only when we edify each other with humility and respect can we stand firm together.

Modern technology allows the quick construction of impressive buildings and sturdy bridges. A look at historical architecture, however, reveals that brilliantly engineered designs and structural techniques were used long before computers, factories, or heavy machinery became part of the process. One ingenious building element that’s been around for millennia is the arch.

The ancient Romans perfected construction of the arch, which derives its strength and stability from the mutual support of adjacent stones. As we think about early arched edifices, it’s understandable that the word edification—from the Latin for “build”—is used to describe the way Christians are called to support each other. Taking it a step further, we’re also meant to build each other up. But the only way that works is if, like stones that are all equally important in an arch, we relate to each other with humility and respect.

READ Ruth 1:3-5, Ruth 1:15-17, and Ruth 2:3-16

When Ruth’s husband died, she could have returned to her hometown in Moab to start a new life. In fact, that’s what her mother-in-law Naomi, also a widow, urged her to do. Yet Ruth chose to honor the older woman: She committed to staying with her mother-in-law and helping provide for her needs. What’s more, she chose to serve Naomi’s God. Ruth and Naomi supported each other instead of seeking their own interests, and this mutual edification benefited them both.

After they settled in Bethlehem, Ruth went to gather grain left for the poor (Lev. 23:22) and met Boaz, the field’s owner. As it happened, he was a kinsman of her late husband and, therefore, a potential spouse and provider according to Hebrew levirate law—quite the prospect for a widow with no apparent means of support. Some might have pursued that outcome aggressively, but Ruth remained modest and proper. Though it may seem forward in today’s world, her request for “covering” (that is, protection) was actually respectful, affirming of Boaz, and acceptable by cultural and legal standards. Besides earning Boaz’s admiration and devotion (Ruth 3:9-11), Ruth’s humility brought honor and blessings beyond her fondest dreams. Her descendants would include two of the greatest earthly kings (David and Solomon) and, more importantly, the King of Kings: Matthew 1:5-16 lists Ruth as an ancestor of Jesus Christ, Savior of the world.

C. S. Lewis said a truly humble person “will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.” Some misunderstand this quality as a state of constant self-deprecation, yet habitually putting oneself down is neither honest nor humble. In fact, false humility actually reeks of self-importance. And that is why we find Ruth’s character inspiring: Her humility was sincere, not contrived or pathetic. Romans 12:3 NLT advises, “Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves”—in other words, taking into account shortcomings as well as strengths. When we achieve this perspective of who we are, we can see others in the right light and treat them as we should.

There are other examples of humility in the Bible, but one outshines the rest. Read Philippians 2:1-11. After reminding us to be humble and selfless, Paul presents a model we cannot ignore: Jesus Christ, the embodiment of ultimate purity, holiness, power, glory, and authority, made Himself nothing for our sake. Why? Because of His great love for us. Because our salvation was more precious to Him than His glory.

REFLECT + EXPLORE

• How might Ruth’s story have developed if she hadn’t chosen to follow Naomi? if she had conducted herself differently in Boaz’s field and in his presence?

• How did Naomi help Ruth make wise decisions in her relationships?

• What impact might Ruth’s attitude have had on others around her, such as Boaz’s employees?

• In light of Ruth’s example, explain how these passages affirm the importance of edifying one another:

Romans 14:19 and Romans 15:2;  1 Corinthians 8:1; Galatians 6:1-10; Ephesians 4:25-29; 1 Thessalonians 5:11-15; and 1 Peter 5:1-6.

RESPOND

• We live in a world that relentlessly urges us to do what’s right for us. We’re encouraged to pursue whatever feels good, gives pleasure, or ultimately fulfills dreams, even if it means tossing out something we think no longer suits us—whether a job, relationship, responsibility, or even our moral compass. How do you (or will you) resist that message?

• What circumstance in your life makes it hard to speak in a humble manner or behave in a way that isn’t self-seeking? Think of principles you can draw from the examples of Ruth and Jesus that would have practical application to this situation. How can you build up the other person or people involved?

• Ask God to reveal how you can be like one of the supportive stones in an arch.

REVISIT

• To more fully appreciate the biblical idea of humility, slowly read through the book of Ruth this month (just one chapter per week). Jot down your observations about Ruth’s character, attitude, speech, and behavior.

• Memorize Philippians 2:3-4 and meditate on the passage. Over the next month, look for people who exemplify these verses, and observe the results of their humility and their interest in others’ needs. Pray for them and acknowledge, either verbally or in writing, the inspiration they are to you.

• Consider how you will “pay forward” the kindness, generosity, or compassion you see in others. Share the results with friends, and encourage them to join you in being an “arch support.”

 

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What happens to my notes

3 Then Elimelech, Naomi's husband, died; and she was left with her two sons.

4 They took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. And they lived there about ten years.

5 Then both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was bereft of her two children and her husband.

15 Then she said, Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law."

16 But Ruth said, Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.

17 Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the LORD do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me."

3 So she departed and went and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to the portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech.

4 Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, May the LORD be with you." And they said to him, May the LORD bless you."

5 Then Boaz said to his servant who was in charge of the reapers, Whose young woman is this?"

6 The servant in charge of the reapers replied, She is the young Moabite woman who returned with Naomi from the land of Moab.

7 And she said, `Please let me glean and gather after the reapers among the sheaves.' Thus she came and has remained from the morning until now; she has been sitting in the house for a little while."

8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, Listen carefully, my daughter. Do not go to glean in another field; furthermore, do not go on from this one, but stay here with my maids.

9 Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Indeed, I have commanded the servants not to touch you. When you are thirsty, go to the water jars and drink from what the servants draw."

10 Then she fell on her face, bowing to the ground and said to him, Why have I found favor in your sight that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?"

11 Boaz replied to her, All that you have done for your mother-in-law after the death of your husband has been fully reported to me, and how you left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and came to a people that you did not previously know.

12 May the LORD reward your work, and your wages be full from the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge."

13 Then she said, I have found favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and indeed have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants."

14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, Come here, that you may eat of the bread and dip your piece of bread in the vinegar." So she sat beside the reapers; and he served her roasted grain, and she ate and was satisfied and had some left.

15 When she rose to glean, Boaz commanded his servants, saying, Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not insult her.

16 Also you shall purposely pull out for her some grain from the bundles and leave it that she may glean, and do not rebuke her."

22 `When you reap the harvest of your land, moreover, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field nor gather the gleaning of your harvest; you are to leave them for the needy and the alien. I am the LORD your God.'"

9 He said, Who are you?" And she answered, I am Ruth your maid. So spread your covering over your maid, for you are a close relative."

10 Then he said, May you be blessed of the LORD, my daughter. You have shown your last kindness to be better than the first by not going after young men, whether poor or rich.

11 Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.

5 Salmon was the father of Boaz by Rahab, Boaz was the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse.

6 Jesse was the father of David the king. David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.

7 Solomon was the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asa.

8 Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah.

9 Uzziah was the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.

10 Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, and Amon the father of Josiah.

11 Josiah became the father of Jeconiah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel.

13 Zerubbabel was the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor.

14 Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud.

15 Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob.

16 Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.

3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,

2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

19 So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.

2 Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.

1 Now concerning things sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.

1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

2 Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

4 But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another.

5 For each one will bear his own load.

6 The one who is taught the word is to share all good things with the one who teaches him.

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.

8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.

26 BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger,

27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.

28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.

29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

12 But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction,

13 and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.

14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,

2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;

3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.

4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

5 You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.

6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,

3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

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